Right before I defended my PhD several years ago, a rising star of a professor in my discipline came to give a talk to my department. He was still relatively quite young- maybe late 30s or early 40s (so not some old crone from the days when all academics were exclusively white men). As a preamble to the rest of this story: I had interviewed for a position at the university where he had tenure a few short months before he came through to the institution where I was doing my doctorate, but didn’t get the job.
As part of his visit, this professor came to a casual afternoon social gathering with graduate students. We (grad students) all briefly introduced ourselves and stated at what stage of the program we were at. When it came to my turn, I said that I was just finishing up my PhD and was immediately going into a tenure-track job right afterwards (at a different university - a different job from the one I interviewed for at his home institution). As I said this, the guy’s eyes almost bulged out of his head and he said, “So you’re going to be an academic?” As if this was news to him - which it shouldn’t have been, given that he had been on the hiring committee for the job that I had interviewed for at his institution. And then he proceeded to explain how difficult being an academic had been for his wife, who had had to quit her job as a professor “for the sake of their marriage” because it became too much for them to manage two academic careers and simultaneously raise their young child who, he said, generated so much extra laundry!
Afterwards, some of the students who had been in the made their way to our shared lunch room, and one of my friends (female grad student) stated that she was appalled by this professor’s comments to me. Along with another friend (also female), we had a brief exchange about how totally sexist the whole thing had been and that we couldn’t believe that this had come from someone relatively young. One of our male colleagues who had been present and was also in the lunch room let out a deep sigh, rolled his eyes, and told us that we shouldn’t take everything so personally.
So, a double dose of mansplaining. 1. our role is to be laundresses and child-minders, not scholars and educators (because the two categories are apparently mutually exclusive). 2. we shouldn’t take any notice of sexist comments because they’re totally not personal!
Glad we got set straight on both fronts. At least I now know why I didn’t get that job at his institution - which I’m so grateful for, because it means that I don’t have to deal with this guy (who still teaches there) on a daily basis.